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Old 09-11-2008, 04:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, here's the story: I'm stumbling over so many awesome bento-box/lunch box blogs with tons of pictures of amazing looking food in those cute little bento boxes! (Kudos to all of you moms out there who do those kind of lunches, it's awesome and inspiring!!!)

I have a 1st grader for whom I would love to make such nice lunches instead of the old boring P&J sandwich and apple kind of style... (Just now I also ordered the 'Vegan lunch box' from Amazon. )
I've seen a few sites where I can get those bento boxes, cute little cutter forms etc. But I honestly feel slightly overwhelmed!

So if any of you bento pros could possibly tell a newbie on what to get for a basic and yet cute starter pack? (My son, who's 3, will also start part time daycare, so I'd need something smaller for him for a snack bento too.)

I'd appreciate your help!!! Thanks in advance!

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:38 AM
 
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Ichiban Kan is the cheapest online source in the US. Otherwise Amazon and eBay.
To start with all you really need is the bento. You can use everyday foil-lined paper baking cups if you need to separate foods, and pack a regular fork. The rest of the stuff really is optional!

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Old 09-11-2008, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your quick reply!
I was PM'ing you earlier (before posting this thread) but it seems your box is full, so my PM didn't go through. Instead of openly addressing you, I posted this and am happy to see you answering me! (I absolutely admire your blog; viewing it today this morning made me realize that I really should change it up for my kids!)

I'll check out the site you mentioned!
Thanks again! I will continue to read and enjoy reading your blog!

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-11-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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I agree that all that other stuff is optional... You can always go to any store, maybe even the dollar store and pick up cookie cutters, cupcake papers, little storage boxes, toothpicks, and such. That is what I've been doing because it's cheaper and it forces me to be even more creative with it. It's fun... and all those blogs and pictures of bentos are SO inspiring! Love it!

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Old 09-11-2008, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LeeAnn,
how I wish we'd be in the US right now! LOL Unfortunately, here in Italy there are no such Doller stores or anything.. but I will try to keep it 'basic' and go from there.
Plus, after veganf's recommendation, I picked up some cute little things online from Ichiban Kan

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-11-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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Ok, here's the story: I'm stumbling over so many awesome bento-box/lunch box blogs with tons of pictures of amazing looking food in those cute little bento boxes! (Kudos to all of you moms out there who do those kind of lunches, it's awesome and inspiring!!!)
Can you post a link to some of these pictures, I've never heard of this, but I'm curious.
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you click onto veganf's link to her blog, you'll see tons of beautiful bento lunch pics!

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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Oh, and I wanted to mention that for people who don't want plastic, Sigg makes some metal boxes that are very bento-like! I am hoping to afford one soon!

milk donation : mother to Ryan (6), AJ (5), Nate (2), Maia (1) all born at home, I have a kid-friendly food & bento blog, : :
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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These containers aren't exactly bento style, but are very cool and are stainless steel (and I love avoiding plastic and aluminum for kid's lunches!) http://www.greentainer.ca/ DD loves hers. We are using them inside a Built Fugu lunch tote.

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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Those are great - if you live in Canada, or are willing to pay buttloads of duty. I am NOT loving NAFTA for all the postal duty! : Can you keep them sealed together w/out the clips (like for the littler one)?

I use Lunchopolis and Laptop Lunches. LL is BPA free, if you are concerned about that. I think Lunchopolis is BPA free, but it's not advertized on their product, so I don't know for sure. They both use a bento-like system (bento means lunchbox in Japanese), LL more so than Lunchopolis. They both come in different styles/colors, and I know that LL allows coops, though I think the coop'ing board is currently closed to new coops. I think it's like $200 for wholesale prices, though, so not so bad. Sending to Italy is going to cost a lot, no matter what.

I recently bought a rice cutting tool (package of bear, fish and something else), waiting for that. I have had zero luck w/the nigiri logs/balls, so I'm hoping this will re-motivate me to make rice at 7am.

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Old 09-11-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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For US customers who wants stainless steel instead of aluminum: http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/cart/storagecont.htm

milk donation : mother to Ryan (6), AJ (5), Nate (2), Maia (1) all born at home, I have a kid-friendly food & bento blog, : :
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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I'm hoping this will re-motivate me to make rice at 7am.
I couldn't do it! I wouldn't survive without frozen onigiri or my rice cooker with a timer to set.

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Old 09-11-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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Those are great - if you live in Canada, or are willing to pay buttloads of duty. I am NOT loving NAFTA for all the postal duty! : Can you keep them sealed together w/out the clips (like for the littler one)?
You guys get charged duty on small items sent from Canada via USPS? I thought there was at least a $200 exemption? I ship stuff via USPS to the U.S. all of the time and not once has anyone been charged duty. Even on computers valued at US$700 and strollers valued at US$650. Not saying they don't charge, just saying that if it happens, it doesn't happen as much as it does to us Canadians!

As for the containers and clips, the small size does NOT have a clip and the large size (which has an additional stainless steel tray inside) comes in 2 versions. One with clips (and a slightly looser fitting lid) and one without clips (that has a tighter fitting lid). The clips are good for younger kids because they are easy to pop off, and then the lid comes off nicely. The tighter lids seal a bit more so young ones may have a tougher time because of the lid sealing so well.

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Old 09-11-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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We have gotten a lot of fun boxes off of ebay before Ichiban Kan got set up online. They really are a great source now, since ebay's prices can be so $$$.

Also, for some super ideas and fun reading you should check out lunchinabox.net...Biggie always has great lunches and pics-very inspiring!
Lots of walk thru type lessons on how to make some of these fun lunches & menu ideas.

Have fun and enjoy it, as silly as it sounds I LOVE making ds's lunch and snack bentos each day. :
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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Just to like to add that I have been checking out veganf's blog and it is AWESOME! Great work mama and great ideas!

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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as silly as it sounds I LOVE making ds's lunch and snack bentos each day. :
I love it too. Many people think you must slave away in the kitchen and get up at 5am to make a bento meal each day, but that's just not the case. And I find food preparation to be very relaxing. My mother on the other hand HATES to cook! To each his own.

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Old 09-11-2008, 08:50 PM
 
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Ichiban Kan is the cheapest online source in the US.
Definitely! Love it! We got some super cute ones, but the cutesy ones they had in stock when I bought mine were mostly girly. They do restock regularly, though so you can find some cute stuff!

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Old 09-11-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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I have a silly question. I am familiar with bentos since I'm asian american and always just LOVE looking at all the bento websites and how clever everyone is with ther bento box lunches. However, do any of your kids get hassled at school for bringing a bento lunch? Do you all live in diverse areas? Bento boxes are so cool, but we live in a rural area where 99% of ppl have never even heard the term, "bento box" before, and anything that isn't meat and potatoes is a, "weird" food. I would love to do something like this for my kids, but am worried about teasing, esp since I would love to include chinese, japanese and korean foods into it. I know it's a silly thing to worry about, but they are already, "different" from other kids b/c of their race I don't want to end up having them teased for bringing a, "weird" lunch. I know I used to get really embarrassed if my mom packed me any chinese food in my lunch and basically resorted to sandwiches in order to fit in.
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:11 PM
 
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Mine don't get picked on at all, but mine is not specific types of food. It's all kinds of varities. We've actually gotten compliments from teachers and ooh's and aah's from fellow classmates. My DD is in 1rst, boys are in later elementary and don't take actual bento boxes, but I still pack their tupperware just like I do hers (except without so many cutesy things! hehe).

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Old 09-12-2008, 01:14 AM
 
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Mine don't get picked on either, but that's mine. We're in Albany NY, so mostly suburban or urban, with a smattering of rural in my kids' world. Ask your kids - by 1st grade they get that 'someone is laughing at me' feeling, if that is occurring. My kids will probably always eat their 'own' stuff, because of dairy issues, veggie issues, etc.

I think it's a fair thing to think about, but I'd go w/what your kids want/like for the moment. They'll grow out of the bentos (and then back into them lol!) in their own time.

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Old 09-12-2008, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it's like $200 for wholesale prices, though, so not so bad. Sending to Italy is going to cost a lot, no matter what.

I recently bought a rice cutting tool (package of bear, fish and something else), waiting for that. I have had zero luck w/the nigiri logs/balls, so I'm hoping this will re-motivate me to make rice at 7am.
Yeah, I think, Hubby would seriously have a fit if I'd order something that expensive anyway..
I ordered some cute looking boxes from Ichiban yesterday and also found a blog site where the person gives you frugal/cheap options.

I also got some onigiri-shapers yesterday, I'm curious to see how it'll go for me. lol

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-12-2008, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have gotten a lot of fun boxes off of ebay before Ichiban Kan got set up online. They really are a great source now, since ebay's prices can be so $$$.

Also, for some super ideas and fun reading you should check out lunchinabox.net...Biggie always has great lunches and pics-very inspiring!
Lots of walk thru type lessons on how to make some of these fun lunches & menu ideas.

Have fun and enjoy it, as silly as it sounds I LOVE making ds's lunch and snack bentos each day. :
Thank you for the link. That was also one blog I got totally sucked into yesterday!

Oh, and to me it doesn't sound silly at all; even without any 'real' bento-items, I tried to create something nice for DD for her lunch today (a faux chicken pattie cut into a bear shape [sandwich cutter], green beans cut in a silicone cup cake mold, ketchup-rice in a dome shape [tiny tupperware cup]) and I could feel the excitement! I loved it!

~*Val*~ Vegan SAHM to DD (2/02) DS (7/05) 6x and wife to my best friend.
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Old 09-12-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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As for teasing, we haven't had any. But I imagine as kids get older they'll want a plain bento without any "cute" food. But I'd think you could put anything in the lunch as long as it looks appetizing and doesn't smell bad. Have your kids help occasionally with preparation and I'll bet they'll let you know what's "cool".

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Old 09-12-2008, 12:01 PM
 
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Ds hasn't gotten any comments other than a "what's that?"

I think at his age, it really isn't an issue...but could definitely become one later as he gets into grade schhol...let's hope not.

veganf-I'd imagine your little guys are the envy of the lunchroom. I was looking at your blog and wanted to show ds the character bentos you did...but I was afraid he'd then realize how un-fun mine really are!
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Old 09-12-2008, 04:08 PM
 
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Thanks ladies! Quick question. Does ichiban kan re-stock often? I was browsing and saw so many cute items, but many are out of stock. I figure school just started so that is probably why they are low right now. I was surprised with how low the prices were.
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Old 09-12-2008, 05:59 PM
 
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Does ichiban kan re-stock often? I was browsing and saw so many cute items, but many are out of stock.
They never have everything I want in stock, but they do seem to restock pretty often. They have a store blog, maybe check it out to find out more info.

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Old 09-14-2008, 01:19 AM
 
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These containers aren't exactly bento style, but are very cool and are stainless steel (and I love avoiding plastic and aluminum for kid's lunches!) http://www.greentainer.ca/ DD loves hers. We are using them inside a Built Fugu lunch tote.
So how do you seperate the food inside, without it sliding all around?
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:34 AM
 
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So how do you seperate the food inside?
I'm not totally sure what you mean by this question? Take a look at veganf's blog and she has lots of pictures of containers filled with bento style lunches. Lots of her pics just have the lunch laid out inside one container, if it's solid food that won't "blend" into another food type. Other pics are using the silicone cupcake sleeves (I think they are silicone anyway).

The large size of the Greentainer has a top tray so you can divide food into 2 separate layers. You can leave the top tray out if you just want to fill the main container with larger items.

There are lots of ways to divide without having your conainter force you into specific size divisions. And easier to wash too. DH is the dishwasher in our house and he hates when I buy containers that have divisions as they take up room in the cupboard without being able to stack anything inside them.

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Old 09-14-2008, 01:38 AM
 
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I was just actually looking at veganf's blog! Amazing stuff!

I totally get how it all fits, I'm just wondering if it will stay where it is while being carried by a little one to school, banging around in a back pack or swinging along in a bag.
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:40 AM
 
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I was just actually looking at veganf's blog! Amazing stuff!

I totally get how it all fits, I'm just wondering if it will stay where it is while being carried by a little one to school, banging around in a back pack or swinging along in a bag.
Ya, she is totally more motivated for lunch packing than I am! I want to move into her house and have her make me lunch everyday.

The Greentainer's aren't gigantic, so it's pretty easy to get a tight fit with food. I'd think the same with any other container, only get one as big as the food your child will eat and then it won't end up sliding around and mixing together.

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